Throughout today’s hearing on Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, she has demonstrated that she understands the brain’s response to sexual assault from a medical perspective. Though GOP senators insisted that the hearing have only two witnesses — Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh — Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology with two Masters degrees and a PhD, is her own expert witness.
Responding to a question from Senator Pat Leahy about the moment that most stands out to her about the alleged assault three and a half decades later, Blasey Ford replied that “indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter.”
Her psychological perspective has most often come into play in explaining what she does and doesn’t remember, how the alleged assault affected her, and why.
In response to another question from Senator Dianne Feinstein about how she can be sure Kavanaugh was her assailant, she said “the same way I’m sure I’m talking to you right now.”
“Basic memory functions,” she continued. “And also, just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of, as you know, encodes that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus so the trauma related experience is locked there where as other details kind of drift.”
And in response to a question from Rachel Mitchell, the Arizona sex crimes prosecutor that Senate Republicans hired to do their questioning, about whether her anxiety later in life could have other causes aside from the alleged assault, Blasey Ford explained that the origins of PTSD are “multifactorial”
“There are certain biological predispositions that everyone has for certain disorders,” she said, later explaining that she felt the alleged assault was the biggest factor she was aware of.